What to do when Word won’t open

It’s a common problem that leaves many users clueless—Word won’t open and isn’t displaying an error message. The causes are many and varied. So, what do you do when Microsoft Word won’t open? We’ll show you four different solutions and provide you with step-by-step instructions for each one.


Unless otherwise stated, Windows 10 and 11 instructions apply to Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Word versions 2021, 2019 and 2016.

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Possible reasons for why Word won’t open

Word won’t start, but you can’t figure out why? It can be very difficult to find the cause if the program does not display an error message. It is easier to check the most common errors and correct them if necessary. These include:

  • Word add-ins: Add-ins are extensions and offer practical additional functions for the word processing program. If Word does not launch after you install an add-in, this is most likely the cause.
  • Windows updates and upgrades: Have you recently updated your operating system? Then problems that occurred during the upgrade or update might be the reason for why Word won’t open.
  • Damaged installations and files: If you’ve just installed Word and it won’t open, it’s possible that the installation itself is damaged.

If you haven’t made any deliberate changes and the problem appears to be unfounded, try performing the following solutions in the order that they are listed. In this way, you’ll be able to gradually eliminate the causes and remedy them.


Other programs can also have trouble opening under certain circumstances. Our guides can help you out if, for example, Outlook won’t start or the Windows operating system won’t boot.

Solution 1: Test in safe mode if Word won’t start

If Word does not open, check whether the problem occurs in Word safe mode. If the program works correctly in that mode, then add-ins are probably the cause of the problem.


Every Microsoft Suite program has its own safe mode. This shouldn’t be confused with the Windows operating system safe mode though.

Step 1: Open Run dialog box

Press down the keys [Windows] + [R] at the same time to open the Run dialog box.

Step 2: Open Word safe mode

Enter the text Winword /safe and confirm by clicking on OK. Now, Word safe mode will start.

Word won’t start: Launch safe mode
If Microsoft Word won’t open, launch safe mode via the Run dialog box.

Step 3: Open Word in safe mode

Now you should be able to open Word like you normally would. If you, however, are unable to open Word, activated add-ins aren’t causing the problem. In this case, skip the following steps and go straight to solution number 2. If you can open the program in safe mode and there aren’t any issues, add-ins are probably the source of the problem. This means that you need to either disable or uninstall them.

Step 4: Deactivate add-ins

In the Word document you have open, select the menu item File and then click on Options. Your Word options will now open. With the left mouse button click on the Add-ins tab. Then select the COM Add-ins option from the Manage drop-down menu. Select the “Go…” button to finish.

Microsoft Word won’t open: Deactivate add-ins
If Microsoft Word won’t open, try deactivating all add-ins.

You can deactivate all of the add-ins by unchecking the box next to them and confirming with OK.

Solution 2: Switch your default printer if Word won’t open

If Word does not open and the problem occurs in safe mode, the next step is to check your selected default printer. If Microsoft Word cannot access this printer, the application will not start. To resolve this problem, select a different default printer.

Step 1: Open Windows settings

Open the Windows settings by pressing the [Windows] + [I] keys at the same time. Then select the Bluetooth & devices section and choose the Printers & scanners option.

Step 2: Change default printer

Deactivate the option Let Windows manage my default printer by sliding the bar to the left. Then select the printer you want to set as your new default printer. Click on the Manage button to open the printer settings. Now, select the default option to use a different printer as your default printer in the future.

Microsoft Word won’t open: Change default printer
If Microsoft Word won’t open, you can try changing your default printer selection.

For older Windows versions, you can find the printer settings under Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > View Devices and Printers. Then right-click the printer you want to use and select the Set as default printer option.

Step 3: Start Word

Now, try restarting the program once more. If you can’t open Word, then you can try updating the printer driver.

Step 4: Update driver

To update your printer driver, launch the Device Manager via the search field of your taskbar and select the appropriate search result. The Device Manager will now open. Expand the Print queues option by clicking on it. Then right-click on your default printer to open the context menu and select the Update driver option.

Microsoft Word won’t open: Update driver
If Microsoft Word won’t open, you can try updating your printer’s driver.

A new window will now open. Select the option Automatically check for updated driver software and wait until the process is complete. Finally, verify that Word can start after the driver is updated. If you still can’t open Word, try solution 3.


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Solution 3: Remove Word from the registry if Word won’t open

If it’s only Word that won’t start and all other Microsoft programs are working fine on your computer, then an error in the configuration may be the cause of the problem. Follow these steps to remove the Word registry key and resolve the error.

Step 1: Open registry

Press the [Windows] + [R] keys simultaneously to open the Run dialog box. Enter regedit into the text window and confirm by clicking on OK.

Step 2: Delete Word registry key

Then follow the path to the Microsoft Word version that’s installed on your computer:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Microsoft > Office > 16.0 > Word > Data

Right-click on the Data entry and select Delete from the context menu. The next time you start Word it will automatically revert to the default settings in place of the previous settings.

Microsoft Word won’t open: Remove registry entry
If Microsoft Word won’t open, you can try removing the Word registry entry.

Restart your computer and then try opening Microsoft Word once more. If Word still won’t open, continue with the solution below.

Solution 4: Repair installation if Word won’t start

If the solutions suggested so far haven’t worked, it’s worth trying to repair the Office installation.

Step 1: Open app settings

Press down the keys [Windows] + [X] at the same time and select the option Apps & features. A field will now open displaying all the apps that are installed on your computer.

Step 2: Modify Microsoft 365 application

Scroll down to the entry “Microsoft 365”. Select the app and continue and click on Modify.


In older versions of Office, this entry is called “Microsoft Office 365”.

Microsoft Word won’t open: App settings
If Microsoft Word won’t open, you can try repairing the Office installation.

Next, select the option Quick Repair to repair your Office programs. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete the process. If Word won’t open after the repair, repeat the steps and select the option Online Repair.

Microsoft Word won’t open: Repair Office programs
If Microsoft Word won’t open, the integrated Office repair system can help get to the bottom of the issue.

Depending on which Office version you’re using, the option Change installation may also be available.

If you’re using Windows 7, Vista or 8 then the option to repair programs is hidden. To access it, open the system settings and select Category. Now click on Programs and then on Deinstall programs. Scroll down until you reach the “Microsoft 365” entry and select it with a right mouse click and then click on Modify.

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